West End Park

Agricultural/Land Estate in/near West Hampstead, existed between 1864 and 1883

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Agricultural/Land Estate · West Hampstead · NW6 ·
FEBRUARY
10
2015

West End Park was created from fields known as the 'Little Estate'.

West End Park, 1870s
In 1851 West End was a hamlet mainly of agricultural labourers, gardeners, craftsmen, and tradespeople for daily needs, with an innkeeper and two beershop keepers and a schoolmistress; the few gentry included Rear-Admiral Sir George Sartorius (1790-1885) of West End House, a retired ironfounder, a surgeon, some civil servants, and a clergyman.

South of the village, the fifteen years from 1879 witnessed great developments after the opening of the third and final railway through the area, the Metropolitan & St. John's Wood, with a station in West End Lane (West Hampstead). Stations on the other two lines opened in 1880 and 1888.

The first to exploit the railway was Donald Nicoll MP, owner of a gentlemen's outfitter's in Regent Street, who leased Oaklands Hall between 1861 to 1872.

He owned portions of the Little Estate to the north and west, together forming a 23 acre estate which he called West End Park.

Nicoll was a director of the Metropolitan and St. John's Wood railway from 1864 to 1872 and, in anticipation of its plans, laid out a road (Sherriff Road - then called Nicoll Road) on the line later taken by the railway, for which he received substantial compensation.

He then sold West End Park to the London Permanent Building Society, which was connected with Alexander Sherriff, a fellow M.P. and railway director, who gave his name to the northernmost road on the estate.

Building began in West End Park in 1879, when houses were under construction in Sherriff, Hemstal, Kylemore, and Gladys Roads. Hilltop Road houses were not begun until 1883. Various builders, mostly local and including James Tavener, Reeder of Maygrove Road, and Haines of Sherriff Road, were working on c. 186 houses and 3 studios in 1893.

Some houses at the eastern end of the estate were detached but most were terraced and cramped. St. James's church was built in 1887 and the Beacon, 'the exact representation of a ruin on the coast of England', at the junction of West End Lane with Hemstal Road about the same time.

It was itself replaced by St. James's Mansions in 1894.


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West End Park, 1870s
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West Hampstead

The name "West Hampstead" was a 19th century invention - the original name was West End.

Lacking its own supply of spring water and situated away from the main roads, medieval West End barely qualified as a hamlet until a few country houses were built here from the 17th century onwards. The tendency for West End Lane to become impassably muddy after heavy rain further enhanced the hamlet's isolation.

By 1815 West End was still excep­tionally quiet – so much so that its inhab­itants claimed to have heard the cannon fire at Waterloo. The construction of the Finchley Road in the 1830s brought few additions to a population that consisted of a handful of squires and some farm labourers, gardeners and craftsmen. By 1851 West End had one inn and two beershops.

Railways were the prime stimulus of growth in many country corners of modern London but few places were trans­formed as wholly as West End. With the arrival of the Hampstead Junction Railway in 1857, the Midland Railway in 1868 and the Metro­politan and St John’s Wood Railway in 1879, the new suburb of West Hampstead spread in all directions.

Rapid development in the 1880s and 1890s swept away the large houses and the streets were laid out in today's pattern. A local estate agent in Kilburn claimed that he coined the name ‘West Hampstead’, for one of the local railway stations. Public amenities such as street lighting, gas and electricity were provided and much of the frontage to West End Lane was developed as shops.

Some of the new estates were the work of big developers like the United Land Company, whose inclination was to build fairly densely, and during the latter decades of the 19th century parts of West Hampstead became increasingly working-class in character, with policeman, travelling salesmen and railwaymen mixing with clerks and artisans. Engin­eering workshops operated near the railway lines.

Twentieth-century building was limited mainly to interwar blocks of flats in the north of the district, often in place of Victorian houses that had already become run-down.

The West Hampstead ward now has relatively few families and a great number of young single people. A large proportion of homes are privately rented and fewer than a quarter of adults are married, compared with more than half for the country as a whole. This socio-economic profile is evident in the upmarket cafés that have lined West End Lane in recent years.

Famous West Hampstead residents have included the singers Dusty Springfield, Joan Armat­rading, Olivia Newton John and Jimmy Somerville, author Doris Lessing, actresses Imelda Staunton and Emma Thompson, and the playwright Joe Orton, who lived on West End Lane with his lover Kenneth Halliwell from 1951 to 1959. Stephen Fry has also lived here.
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